As world leaders gather for climate week, they are running out of time

It’s Climate Week in New York City, taking place alongside the United Nations General Assembly, and comes in the wake of a record-breaking hot summer in the Northern Hemisphere and ahead of what could be a dangerously suffocated winter in Europe. It is a time when China has witnessed its worst heatwave on record, the war in Ukraine has reinforced Western Europe’s over-reliance on natural gas, and the floods in Pakistan have been labeled a “climate catastrophe” which requires “massive support”. And all this just months after the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sounded a wake-up call about the inadequacy of global action to date.

Overall, it’s another sign that we’ve waited too long to take seriously building a global clean energy economy and adopting natural climate solutions. These challenges also mean that Climate Week conversations about climate smart food systems, natural climate solutions, climate business actions and innovative policy tools take on new urgency as the world faces deeper scientific and political challenges.

In short, this is no ordinary year for this annual gathering of activists, academics, business and government officials.

But Climate Week also comes at a time of great progress, as we see major breakthroughs from many of the world’s major economies. Aiming to become carbon neutral before 2060, China continues to aggressively invest in clean energy worth $ 381 billion last year, according to the International Energy Agency, with solar panels and turbines. wind farms installed across China at a rapid pace in what many see as a new clean energy race with North America.

Meanwhile, the Indian government last month approved an updated climate plan to reduce emissions intensity by 45% by 2030 from 2005 levels and reach approximately 50% of the cumulative installed electricity capacity from non-fossil energy resources. by 2030. These measures support India’s long-term goal of reaching net zero by 2070.

In the United States, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act last month, pledging $ 369 billion in investments in climate and clean energy, the most ambitious climate package in US history. This will bring the US substantially closer to its goal of halving climate pollution by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050, restoring global confidence that the 2015 Paris Agreement is being taken seriously in Washington.

In addition to accelerating clean energy innovation in the United States, Biden also promoted his commitment to quadruple U.S. international climate finance from Obama-era levels, requesting $ 11.4 billion from Congress by 2024.

These steps forward should be grounds for cautious optimism on the occasion of this year’s Climate Week, mitigated by a clear perspective on the work still to be done. A key piece of the way forward is building the trust between countries needed for stronger international collaboration on climate action. Our goal now must be to hold governments and businesses accountable for their promises. Responsibility breeds progress, which fosters trust, which leads to cooperation, a fundamental cooperation to help the world achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

This focus on accountability is key in view of COP27, the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Egypt in November. The next summit cannot just be about making announcements and commitments. The Egyptian presidency has prioritized shifting COP27 focus from planning to implementation, with an emphasis on mobilizing collective action on adaptation, mitigation and enabling of financial flows to enable action to be taken on large scale.

At COP27, we will work to accelerate the transition to clean energy and to ensure safe and healthy livelihoods, especially for the communities most affected by climate change. For example, the summit is an intermediate point for the “global inventory” for the Paris Agreement. The report will assess the world’s progress towards achieving the goals outlined in the landmark 2015 agreement, providing an opportunity to identify where and how the world needs to step up efforts.

Finance will also be at the center of the COP27 agenda. We must act to mobilize adequate resources to enable vulnerable countries to prepare, plan and respond to the impacts of climate change and ensure sustainable economic development for their populations.

The path to COP27 runs straight through New York City this Climate Week. We can celebrate recent successes, also taking this opportunity to identify ways to extend and strengthen efforts. Now is the time to channel this momentum into further action to pave the way for COP27 success. We have no time to waste.

Angela Churie Kallhauge is the Executive Vice President for Impact at the Environmental Defense Fund.

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